How Can I Actually Speak to a Real Person or Agent at the IRS

You’d think that tax season would be the easiest government-related thing you’ll be doing. The IRS, however, proves otherwise. Hundreds and thousands of people have complained about the unpleasant experience they’ve had with contacting the IRS. It’s been known that the employees of IRS are helpful––it’s just that there’s not much to go around. A couple of years ago, callers have reported that they’ve experienced being on hold for three hours.

Though there are a lot of complaints, still the best way to solve these issues is to pick up your phone. It’s a lot of time to sacrifice during the day, yes, but there are a couple of ways to reduce it in the meantime.

The first step is by knowing when to call. As for any company, there are timeslots that are completely or semi-dedicated to calls. As for IRS, they have a list of common issues that may just answer your questions about tax returns, payments, identity theft, and other concerns.

According to the company, wait times usually go for around 15 minutes between January and April. Note, also, that the heaviest days for calls to the IRS are Mondays and Tuesdays, the Presidents Day weekend, and just right before we go into Tax Day.

May and December, on the other hand, are quite heavier than the previous months wherein wait times can go up to 30 minutes and even more on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In a test conducted in 2017, enQ, Inc. saw that the best times to call during the day were before 9 AM on the East Coast and after 5 PM on the West Coast.

The second step, of course, is knowing how to call. Look, IRS isn’t your brother who just picks up the phone after one or two rings. In fact, IRS has a specialized system that lets you go through a menu to route you to the best agent regarding your issue.

Amy Northard, an accountant, offers a pretty simple and systematic way to best route you to your IRS agent through the phone menu.

  1. The IRS telephone number is 1-800-829-1040, and they are available from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday. The best time to call is early in the morning.
  2. The first question the automated system will ask you is to choose your language.
  3. Once you’ve set your language, do NOT choose Option 1 (regarding refund info). Choose option 2 for “Personal Income Tax” instead.
  4. Next, press 1 for “form, tax history, or payment”.
  5. Next, press 3 “for all other questions.”
  6. Next, press 2 “for all other questions.”
  7. When the system asks you to enter your SSN or EIN to access your account information, do NOT enter anything.
  8. After it asks twice, you will be prompted with another menu.
  9. Press 2 for personal or individual tax questions.
  10. Finally, press 4 for all other inquiries. The system should then transfer you to an agent.

Now, you might finally be set for a call with an IRS agent but the call itself isn’t an easy matter as well. Before you go in guns blazing, make sure everything’s prepared for the call. If you don’t, you might have to say goodbye to the half-hour wait you just did and make the process a whole lot longer.

According to the IRS, you have to prepare these specific items:

  • Social Security numbers (SSN) and birth dates
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for taxpayers without a Social Security number
  • Filing status – single, head of household, married filing joint, or married filing separate
  • Prior-year tax return
  • Tax return you’re calling about
  • Any correspondence we sent to you

Okay, now that that’s settled. Let’s fill you in on what happens if you’ve waited for a longer time than usual. You did everything right––call on a non-busy month, woke up before 9 AM, followed all the steps, and gathered all your papers––but it seems like you’re still getting stuck on hold.

If you live near (or you’re willing to drive to one) a local IRS office, you have the choice to skip the main phone line altogether and just call there. It may just be a case of they-can’t-answer-you-through-the-phone type of situation. However, your Taxpayer Assistance Center can schedule you a face-to-face appointment with an agent––much better than a phone call.

If that still doesn’t work, you may want to try and contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service––an office that works within the IRS and helps people with any of their issues tax-wise.

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